To obtain a copy of your Gold Seal Certificate (aka the "Adoption Certificate") you will need to send a check for $6 to the Clerk of the Court of Cook County, along with a short, explanatory note (see sample below). If your adoption was finalized in Cook County, the Clerk of the Court will send you a rather formal-looking document which includes the date, place and case number for the adoption. Turn-around time is usually three or four weeks.
Once you have the date, place and case number of the adoption from the Clerk of the Court, you can access additional information on the adoption by consulting the archives of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (where birth surnames for all adoptees adopted in Cook County before December 31, 1962, are easily located using the data from the Gold Seal Certificate). Most Chicago law schools have copies of The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin dating back to the turn of the century (on microfilm); you can also consult the archives of the CDLB at the Daley Center in downtown Chicago (50 W. Washington St.).
Upon receipt of your "Gold Seal Certificate," please contact us for specific instructions on locating your adoption notice in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. If you live outside of Cook County or cannot access a Cook County law library during normal business hours, we will do the law library look-up for you free of charge!
Here is a sample letter to the Clerk of the Court (you can copy this letter and paste it into a word processing program; be sure to change the wording, dates, etc. to fit your particular circumstances; if you have any questions about requesting a Gold Seal Certificate please call us at 312/666-5721):
Clerk of the Court
Richard Daley Center
50 West Washington/Room 1202
Chicago, Illinois 60602
Re: Request for Gold Seal Certificate
Dear Clerk of the Court:
Following my recent call to your office with regard to receiving a Gold Seal Certificate, please find enclosed a check made out to the Clerk of the Court of Cook County in the amount of $6.
As I explained over the phone, my adoptive parents have lost my adoption decree and we would like to obtain a copy of my Gold Seal Certificate as proof of my adoption. My name at my adoption was ADOPTED NAME. I was born on ADOPTEE'S DATE OF BIRTH in ADOPTEE'S PLACE OF BIRTH. My adoptive parents are NAMES OF ADOPTIVE PARENTS. My adoption was finalized in Cook County Court some time in the spring/fall/winter/summer of (ADD ONE YEAR TO YOUR DATE OF BIRTH TO CALCULATE THE APPROXIMATE DATE OF YOUR ADOPTION UNLESS YOU WERE BORN BEFORE 1950, IN WHICH CASE YOU NEED ONLY ADD THREE MONTHS TO THE DATE OF BIRTH TO OBTAIN THE APPROXIMATE DATE OF ADOPTION).
Thank you very much for your assistance in this matter.
With best regards,